The latest from Tanaka-ville as things return to normal in the post-holidays world …
- Mariners, Mariners, Mariners! Er, um, Yankees, Yankees, Yankees! The Mariners enjoyed a brief time in the spotlight as frontrunners for Masahiro Tanaka, but cold water yesterday from Ken Rosenthal (in the form of a “front office wants him, but still has to convince ownership” kind of thing) brings them back to the pack. And now it’s Yankees, Yankees, Yankees once again, largely courtesy of a Ken Davidoff report noting that, “There’s no sense out of Yankees camp the team is going to draw any sort of financial line with this guy. They’re in desperation mode after missing the playoffs, and they badly need another frontline starting pitcher while a) not loving any of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana; and b) not having the trade chips to get someone from another team.” We don’t know what is in Tanaka’s heart and mind, but if the Yankees – and not the Cubs, as has been reported – are determined to be the top bidder for Tanaka, no matter what, I have a hard time seeing them missing out on their man. Davidoff goes as far to say that the Yankees are far more interested in getting Tanaka than they were in retaining Robinson Cano. And heaven knows they need pitching.
- The Yankees haven’t had serious contact about Tanaka with his agent, Casey Close, just yet, according to Wallace Matthews. But that’s coming soon, and it sounds like that was mostly because Close was on a family vacation. That’s as good a reason as any for why things have been so quiet on the Tanaka front the last week and a half. With a January 24th signing deadline, there was no need to rush just yet anyway.
- So if it’s all Yankees or all Mariners, should we even follow this story anymore? Well, of course. Setting aside the fact that the Tanaka market will have a direct impact on the rest of free agency and the pitching trade market (of obvious relevance to the Cubs), the Cubs really are interested. Maybe they can’t land Tanaka, and they certainly aren’t inside favorites. But Tanaka’s value to the Cubs’ organization going forward is pretty clear, and it’s not like they’ve already spent up whatever little dollars they have available this offseason. Longshot? Maybe. But, until we hear otherwise, the Cubs are in this thing. There will probably be five more “lead changes” over the course of this process before Tanaka actually signs. You have to just take these reports for what they’re worth.
- Mike Axisa at River Avenue Blues breaks down everything – everything – about Tanaka. One small piece of note: “By my unofficial count, 37 players have come over from Japan as free agents and there was no discernible location bias: 14 signed with East Coast teams (including NPB stars like Hideki Matsui and Kaz Matsui), 12 signed with West Coast teams (Kenji Johjima and Hideo Nomo), and the other 11 signed with Middle America teams (Tadahito Iguchi and Kosuke Fukudome).” Still feels like money will be the most important thing, with “fit” as a close number two if the money is all in the same ballpark.
- If the Cubs signed him, Tanaka would instantly become the organization’s top “prospect,” according to Baseball America.
- Sahadev shared this Jeff Passan pitch count piece on Tanaka in his long take on whether Tanaka is actually worth signing to a huge contract for the Cubs, but, in case you missed it because of the context … here’s a great Jeff Passan pitch count piece on Tanaka. Yes, some teams are concerned about the heavy workload Tanaka’s been raised on.